Both U.S. and Ohio laws attempt to strike a balance between individual liberty and public safety. You are entitled to be free from unreasonable intrusion by the police. However, there are times when the scale tips in favor of law enforcement action, enabling officers to detain you and search your person, vehicle, home, or office. For searches and seizures of your property, there must be probable cause that you have participated in a crime. During some traffic stops for driving under the influence (DUI), there are enough facts to support probable cause that the police can search your car or clothing without going to a judge for a warrant. However, in many potential DUI cases, this objective standard is not met and the police need a warrant to try and gather more evidence against you.
If you believe your vehicle was unreasonably searched or you were forced to provide a blood test, contact Cincinnati DUI defense attorney Brad Groene of Luftman, Heck & Associates. He understands the nuances of DUI warrants and can determine if your rights have been violated. If the police did not obtain a warrant when they should have, you may have a defense to your current charges. Call us today at (513) 338-1890.
When the Police Can Search Your Vehicle Without a Warrant
There are times when the police can move forward with a search of your vehicle during a DUI stop without obtaining a warrant first. These circumstances include:
- Probable cause – When officers have probable cause you committed a crime and there is likely evidence of that offense within the vehicle, they can search your car. If all signs point to your driving while inebriated, the police may be able to look in your vehicle for bottles or cans of alcohol. They can look in the glovebox, under the seats, and even if your or your passenger’s belongings. The police are only limited by looking in areas that could contain what the officers reasonably expect to find.
- An arrest – If you are lawfully arrested, the police may conduct a search reasonably related to the arrest. When you are arrested for a DUI, then officers may look in your car for alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medications.
- Safety – Officers may search your vehicle if they believe it is necessary for their protection. If during the DUI stop, you make any violent threats to the police or insinuate that there is a weapon in the vehicle, the police may search your car to seize that weapon.
- Consent – The police may ask for permission and you can consent to a search of your vehicle at any time. If the police have to ask, then they do not have probable cause you have been part of a crime. You have the right to refuse a search.
When the Police Cannot Conduct a Warrantless Search
While the police can search a vehicle without a warrant under one of the above circumstances, they cannot search your car without a warrant after issuing you a routine traffic ticket. Receiving a ticket, such as for speeding or improper lane usage, is not the same as an arrest. It does not give an officer the right to look through your vehicle or clothing.
Also, the police cannot search your vehicle without a warrant if they pull you over yet find no evidence of drunk driving or any other offense. When the cops stop you based on the initial suspicion of a DUI and do not uncover enough facts to arrest you, they may ask to look inside your car. It may sound like they are ordering you to let them look in your car. However, if the police are asking if they can go inside your vehicle in any way, they do not have probable cause to do so without a warrant.
The Police Need a Warrant for a Blood Test
In June 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court found breath and blood alcohol tests are not the same under the law. When you are pulled over under suspicion of a DUI, the police can require you to take a breath test without a warrant. The court found this was minimally invasive. If you refuse to submit to a breath test, you can face both civil and criminal punishments based on Ohio’s implied consent law.
However, the same is not true for a blood alcohol test. A blood test was determined to be much more invasive than blowing into a breath test machine. It requires a needle to break your skin and gives the police a sample they can retrain. You can either consent to a blood test or the police must obtain a warrant to force you to take it. If you refuse a warrantless request for a blood test, you cannot face criminal penalties – though you may have civil consequences based on Ohio’s implied consent law.
If you are arrested for a DUI and the police ask you to take a breath test, then you should know they do not need a warrant. If you refuse, you face additional civil and criminal ramifications. However, if the police ask you to give a blood sample to test your blood alcohol level, ask to see the warrant. Without a valid warrant, you have a stronger stance in refusing a blood test.
Your Options When the Police Fail to Obtain a Warrant
If you believe you were subjected to an unreasonable, warrantless search of your body or vehicle, contact an experienced Cincinnati DUI defense attorney at Luftman, Heck & Associates right away. One of our experienced attorneys will carefully review your experience with you. If it appears that the police conducted a search of your vehicle without a warrant of a valid reason or forced you to submit to a blood alcohol test without a warrant, then this can be used as a defense in your DUI case.
An unconstitutional search may be used to have evidence against you thrown out, which means the prosecutor cannot use it at trial. An unreasonable search can also be grounds for asking the court to dismiss the charges against you. To learn more about your options after the police do not obtain a necessary warrant, call us today.
Charged With an Ohio DUI? Contact Our Cincinnati DUI Lawyers Today
You do not have to face the stress and fear of an Ohio DUI/OVI charge alone. Cincinnati attorney Brad Groene from Luftman, Heck & Associates is here to help you address these charges and build the strongest defense possible under the law. He understands moving forward with your life while these charges hang over your head is difficult, which is why is tenacious in protecting your rights and guiding you through this experience. He will explain your rights and options every step of the way.